The Running Man on Stopping

I thought that I might stop the running diary: it has a very patchy readership – although that, in itself, is not unusual.  Day by day, post by post, the (lack of) quality within my blog remains more or less constant, yet the readership goes up and down in a manner that I just cannot fathom.  There have been occasions when I have published a post only because I have nothing else.  It has often been a toss-up as to whether to go for ‘no post’ or something I feel to be substandard.  I always go for ‘substandard’ – it’s been many years since I have felt comfortable in falling back on ‘My homework is in the dog’ – so I use what I have got, and therein lies my problem.  The posts that I do not believe to be good enough often get lots of reads and lots of likes and I am always left wondering why?  Perhaps I should write badly all the time.  (Oh come on now.  That’s below the belt!)  Nobody who writes is ever fully content with what they have written, but I have from time to time published a post that I have been largely happy with and often, those are the posts that go down the toilet quickest.  I clearly do not write for me.

Not being my own audience is my biggest problem.

I have realised that the more I ‘polish’ a post, the less it is liked.  I use my own voice most of the time now and that seems to work the best.  (I wonder what I sound like to you?  I can hear me.  I sound like a camp history teacher.  Is that how you hear me?  Hearing myself on audio or video playback makes me cringe and laugh at the same time – unfortunately, normally in the wrong order.  It’s hard to know what you sound like to other people, isn’t it?  It’s like colour.  We both know that grass is green, but do we both see the same colour?  Is my green red and your green blue?  My brother is colour-blind and I really struggle to understand it.  If he really can’t tell the difference between blue and green, why doesn’t he keep falling off cliffs?)  I wrote a series of ten-minute monologues a little while ago about a fictional village which were perfect for podcast so, to see how they sounded, I recorded a couple.  Oh dear.  Imagine Alan Bennett’s more monotone sister.  I cannot believe the sound that comes out of my mouth.  It’s the aural equivalent of watching wallpaper being stripped.  It’s like chillies in honey – whatever you are looking for, it is all there, just definitely not like you want it.

I know, also, that with blogging there is a knack to getting the title right.  Asking questions is apparently a sure way to get readers.  My whole life is a question.  I do not need readers, I need answers.  Perhaps if I just add a question mark to the end of each title my readership might go up (it can’t go down).  There must be a way of fashioning Categories and Tags to pull people in.  I should learn it, but…  I enjoy the writing.  I would like to have more readers – my wife finds it hard to understand why I devote so much time to writing this drivel for the weekly consumption of ten regular readers and four hundred algorithms.  It’s just what I do.  It is what keeps me sane.  Wibble. 

This morning I received bad news upon bad news and then I went for a run.  I realised that running is now also what I do to keep myself sane.  This running diary should, by my own ‘rules’ stop with the end of ‘Lockdown’, and I fear that it might, like Only Fools and Horses, perhaps run on just a little too long if I’m not careful.  For now, as I continue to run even as Lockdown measures begin to ease (no turning back – you heard Boris say so) the running diary will continue, but it will have less to do with running than what is rattling around inside my head as I run, and when that little voice ceases prattling on, then the diary won’t be all that stops…

Today’s thought of the day:  Colin’s First Rule of Decorating – the brush you need is always the brush you don’t have.

The Return of the Running Track of the Day: Jimmy Hendrix – Red House.

My first sad trundle into running started with ‘Couch to 5k’ – here.
Last week’s running farago ‘The Running Man On the Go’ is here.

16 thoughts on “The Running Man on Stopping

  1. I like to read you. However I usually don’t have the time for a lengthy one. I TRY to get in to read them on weekends or closer to the end of my day but that rarely works….


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  2. How are you gauging the amount of readers? Do you have an analytics thing set up? Or is it simply replies and likes? I know that I have at least half a dozen who read some of my offerings but they don’t have WordPress accounts and I only know if they’ve read something if they actually tell me. I read everything that you post but I don’t always comment unless I’ve got something inane to add… I’m sure that you must have said this to me in the past that you should be writing for yourself and if anyone else reads it, then that’s a bonus. Or did I dream that?

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    1. Well, I’ve just finished writing tomorrow’s instalment and I really like it – which probably means it’s crap! An interesting avenue opens for a future episode though…


  3. I agree with Crispinunderfelt(whom I also read and anxiously watch for posts from), you should be writing for yourself. And me. I purposely open your blog every single day and read every post. As to your voice, I’ve always imagined it as sort of Marty Feldman-esque.

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  4. It’s a common WordPress problem, difficult to know how to know if your words are actually being read, even if there are likes from people (or programs) you don’t recognise half the time.
    Comments (other than the ‘Nice blog!’) are where the real people are. I find some comfort in seeing a like appear from someone who I know has commented before, and I have engaged with, and can understand if they have no time or nothing to add on that occasion. At least I’ve established that there is a real person behind it before, which is slightly more heartening.
    Anyway, I’ve settled for ‘doing whatever the hell I like’ and not worrying too much about it. The fun is in the creation, good or not doesn’t come into it! The only time that would really matter is if you were asking people to buy it… 😉

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  5. For what it’s worth, Colin, I don’t want you to stop the running diary – it was one of the main things that helped me ‘find’ you on WordPress and I like your posts on this subject best of all (while also really digging the non-running aspects of what you write).

    That said, I’m probably (partly) the reason why your responses are patchy – I (and I’m sure your other followers) find it hard to keep up with all the blogs I follow while also writing myself, and working, etc., so I haven’t read all of your recent running pieces, even though I really enjoy them and thought: ”Oh, I’d like to read that” when they appear in my in-box.

    The fact that you – and others I follow – are quite prolific only magnifies this problem. I’d really like to read all of it, but I’d need to be much more efficient in my reading (and my wider life) to manage everything. Sometimes I wonder if I/we bloggers are playing a bit of a Mug’s Game, creating a product which requires a lot of time and commitment from our ‘audiences’ when we could just create memes, or beats, or something else that’s consumed much faster.

    Then again, we’re always told that writing frequently is a good way to grow an audience (and it’s somewhat true in my experience). It’s also doesn’t have to be the best quality stuff that scores a bullseye, as you say. I used to follow a guy who had tens of thousands of followers and often didn’t bother ‘writing’ – just posted little slogans like you might find on a gift card, or banal questions, and still harvested Likes by the bushel… at least we’re not him!!!

    I also agree with Scribblans’ comment – the fundamental reason we post is to create: I always feel better having written something, even if – as you said – we never quite write the piece we were after. Categories, Tags, etc, are all a bit of a mystery to me, too, and also not that interesting. I just hope that if we’re decent at what we’re doing – and you are definitely more than decent – we’ll eventually build up an audience, even though it seems to take effing ages!

    If you write it, they will come…

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  6. I for one love the way you write. It sounds real Like we were in a bar on the second Guinness, and we are talking and waiting for the dart board to free up, but neither of us are any good at darts. Your voice is real and the complaining is just enough to make me want to buy the third round
    Laugh Until It annoys someone. They’ll thank you

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